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Breast milk is considered as the most ideal food throughout infancy, providing vital nutrients not only to infants themselves, but also to beneficial microbes that inhabit their gastrointestinal tract. These complexed microbial communities that harbor infant gut consist the so-called gut microbiota.
Recent studies on intestinal microbes have demonstrated that the microbial ecosystem within the human gastrointestinal tract is exceedingly complex and development of a normal intestinal flora is a gradual and intricate process. Various factors influencing the development of the gut microflora are mode of delivery, environment during birth, hygiene measures, environmental contaminants, fecal, vaginal and skin flora of mother, developmental stage of the gastrointestinal tract and type of feed used.
Research revealed that both probiotics and prebiotics can affect the composition and development of the intestinal microflora especially during the first months of life which are very critical. Despite the clear benefits coming from probiotics or prebiotics supplementation to infant formulae, their simultaneous addition in baby food can be much more effective during early life. Synbiotics are the mixture of probiotics and prebiotics that secure the survival and prevalence of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract through a much more productive way: it is always easier for the microbe to proliferate and prevail over the pathogens in the gut when entering the Gastrointestinal Tract with its substrate, the prebiotic. Through this mechanism, synbiotics when administered in infant nutrition can lead to microflora balance attainment which is the key to a healthy individual.
In absence of breast milk, various infant formulae may not be an appropriate substitute as they have not yet been able to meet the critical nutritional and physiological demands of infants. But with synbiotics supplementation in infant nutrition, infant formulae become the ideal food for infants when the golden standard in nutrition, maternal milk, is not applicable.